Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), and Qatar Autism Families Association (QAFA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide socially inclusive opportunities at QF facilities, particularly sports and leisure activities, for those with autism and their families, following the Qatar National Autism Plan.
The agreement was signed by Machaille Al-Naimi, President of QF Community Development, and Fatima Al Sulaiti, Chair of QAFA. Also present was Sultana Afdhal, acting CEO of WISH.
Al-Naimi said they have been working with QAFA for some time now, particularly over the summer months when they hosted a number of popular activities initiated by WISH.
The signing of this MoU is the culmination of that work and provides the framework for these and other events to continue on a year-round basis. We look forward to working together on programmes and events that will help to promote a healthy and active lifestyle within the wider special needs community in Qatar.’
WISH, in partnership with Qatar Foundation Community Development, introduced a number of activities, primarily for QAFA, during 2017, to address the growing need for social and sports facilities to be made available to children with autism. These included swimming classes, horse riding lessons, and special football sessions with coaches from the Liverpool Football Club Foundation.
Beyond sports and leisure activities, the agreement also provides an opportunity for WISH and QAFA to collaborate towards the advancement of autism spectrum disorder research in Qatar.
Afdhal said that the MoU strengthens their commitment to help in the establishment of a sustainable programme that supports Qatar’s National Mental Health Strategy.
To date, WISH has worked with healthcare experts from around the globe to create two evidence-based reports: ‘Mental Health and Well-being in Children’ and ‘Autism: A Global Framework for Action’.
Speaking on behalf of QAFA, Al Sulaiti expressed her appreciation of QF’s efforts to support children with autism and other complex needs.
We are delighted and grateful that Qatar Foundation is opening up its recreation facilities for our families so that children, as well adults, with autism and other complex needs, can enjoy the health benefits of sports activities all year round.
The summer activities organised by WISH were a great way to integrate these children into activities within a free and interactive learning environment.’
The WISH autism report can be accessed via its website.